BY APB Staff on 6 Apr 2022

More investigations are currently ongoing at fifteen shipyards and five yacht dealers in the Netherlands

Customs authorities in the Netherlands have impounded 14 superyachts linked to Russia, 12 of which are currently under construction. 

In a letter to the Dutch parliament on Wednesday, foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra said the yachts are barred from being formally delivered or handed over to the owners, and cannot leave the country until investigations into their ownership are concluded.

While there are no Russian-owned yachts over 35 metres anchored in the country, Hoekstra highlights that many superyachts are being built and serviced in the Netherlands. 

Five shipyards are impacted by the move, and all are currently cooperating fully with the sanctions. 

The superyacht industry is a major economic industry for the Netherlands, and records from the Dutch chamber of commerce show that major builders Heesen, Feadship, Damen Shipyards and Oceanco had combined sales of around US$1.66 billion in 2020 alone. 

Hoekstra told parliament that €516m in assets and €155m in transactions have been frozen in the Netherlands to date, following some criticism that the country was acting too slowly to follow through with sanctions. A former minister Stef Blok has this week been appointed as the country’s sanction compliance coordinator. His role involves supervising the freezing of Russian assets and seizure of Russian real estate and boats in the country.

READ: Which superyachts have been sanctioned?

“For one of these yachts, the relationship with a person named on European sanctions lists is being examined,” Hoekstra says.

More investigations into potential Russian-owned yachts are currently ongoing at fifteen shipyards and five yacht dealers in the Netherlands. 

Last month, Asia-Pacific Boating reported that the EU has barred all exports of yachts and boats to Russia, in the fourth package of sanctions announced by the European Commission. The sanctions extend to all luxury goods, including recreational boats, planes and cars.

The exact impact of the fourth round of sanctions is yet to be understood. However, several European yards have been downplaying concerns. Ferretti Group, which has an order book valued at €1.272bn, has issued a statement claiming that less than 3 per cent of its total revenue originates from “areas currently involved in the conflict.”

Sanlorenzo, which has a backlog of €1.09bn, issued a similar statement, claiming that none of its Russian clients have so far been sanctioned. It adds that orders commissioned by Russian clients make up less than 10 per cent of its total order backlog over three financial years.

Meanwhile, Heesen has restructured its board — with two Russian members voluntarily stepping down — in response to the Ukraine crisis.